The first day of a two day seminar run by the famous Chiba sensei supported by Tatsuo Hayashi sensei and based in Reading, Berkshire. During this session we concentrated on basic men, kote, do and maai/seme.
I have listed what I can recall from the lesson:
We instructed on how to hold the shinai correctly. The left hand must grip the end of the tsuka with three fingers, ensuring that the bottom of the shinai its on the 'ball' of the palm (unsure the correct term). You shouldn't have any part of the tsuka poking beyond your palm.
The right hand must have a loose grip with the index finger about two finger widths from the tsuba. No hand should hold the shinai in a 'axe handle' grip.
Chiba sensei then instructed us how to 'snap' a cut using soft hands but powerful wrists. Its was amazing to see the power he can generate with such little effort.
Sensei instructed that we should aim to cut to the chin to 'pop' the cut. The cut must snap and not land heavy.
- Men, kote & do
We instructed in how to make small, sharp cuts. We started at chikama with one step cut (no run though or tsubazeriai), then progressively moving back to find our own comfortable cutting maai and running though after cut. This exercise was repeated for men, kote and do.
Chiba sensei then instructed us to create pressure with our opponent when cutting a target when the opportunity presents itself. This was done by stepping into distance, motodachi then waits for approx 3 seconds (building pressure) before reacting and providing either a men, kote or do opportunity. It is then up to the shidachi to immediately cut the target using the small cut technique taught earlier. The aim is to cut without hesitation.
During this period I asked Chiba sensei on his opinion of seme for taller people as I am constantly told to cut from distance (being 6ft 4). Hayashi translated simply "do what works". This topic lead to a discussion between 4-5 sensei. I'm unsure if I got the gist of the full conversation but to my understanding Chiba sensei meant that I should try to create pressure from distance, if it is ineffective then I need to move in closer to disturb my opponent and create an opportunity.
- Oji Waza
Our seme work moved on to a higher level of kendo. Instead of motodachi simply presenting a target, they were told to cut either men or kote. Shidachi's job was to step in with seme to create pressure then perfom oji waza (defensive waza) when motodachi cut. We were instructed in:
- Men kaeshi do - Sensei told us to thrust the shinai forward above his head to collect the parry before the do cut. The parry had to be with the monouchi and not too far down the shaini.
- Men suriage men - Again the parry had to be with the monouchi part of the shinai. This was to be performed with forward motion.
- Men, kote men - Sensei emphasised we must step forward with the right foot only for kote cut (dont move the left forward). The left is then brought up after the men cut, this results with a quick pow-pow footwork.
- Debana kote.
- Kote nuki men.
- Men nuki do.
After a period of rotating kihon with these techniques we took a short break in preparation for jigeiko.For the final hour of the day we had rotating jigeiko. During this time I was lucky enough to practice with Chiba sensei for 5 minutes. I attempted to use what we had learned during the lesson but of course I couldn't connect with anything I tried. I did manage to touch his kote once but it was well messy, no way ippon worthy! One thing that struck me was when I attempted harai or suriage I couldn't move his shinai, my weak attempts just bounced off hahaha.
I did gain some success of a few other people I fought, connecting with some good fake kote men and suiage men.
Looking forward to tomorrow's session although my feet aren't.